Who Cares about Graduating?

It was my freedom I thought I wanted.

Freedom Photo.

I had no interest in high school, much less higher education so I didn’t worry about

I was always fighting with my parents about how much freedom I thought I should have; and at 17, I decided it was much better to be living in my car (in March, in Chicago).  Hmm, that was a dumb move!   I did that for a month and then followed my friend down to Springfield , IL  where we could live with her sister.  We did that for a month and she moved back home.  Wimp!  I already had a job, so I got a hotel room for $57.75 a week and lived in Springfield, hitch hiking to work.  Are we seeing my trend of destructive choices, yet?  

I discoveredcocaine, ‘shrooms and acid.  I always drank, but drugs were where I found my quickest destructive path.  Over the years, I found myself hooked up with a coke dealer and I found the combo to the safe, so I helped myself to a bunch of it all the time and learned how to freebase.  How clever was I?  So here I was, at 105 pounds (normal weight around 150) soaking wet and I could no longer carry a conversation past 2 sentences.  I moved back home with my parents and the counselor they brought me to told them I would be lucky to live a normal life - ever.  

Well, obviously, cocaine was the problem and I shouldn’t ever do that again!  Thank God it wasn’t addictive, so it would be easy to stay away from it.  HA!  I did recover my faculties (mostly) while staying with my parents, only because I couldn’t use like I did before with them watching me.  So, I got better and moved out on my own again.  During all this insanity (and the insanity to come), I managed to hold down my jobs.  I was never fired because of my addictions.  Therefore, nothing was wrong – right?

Over the next few years, I did manage to get drugs out of my life.  I started hanging around a great group of people who didn’t use drugs; they just went to the bars 4-5 nights out of the week.  I spent a great deal of time and money in bars.  You see, people who drink alone have a problem.  People who get drunk in bars with other people are just out partying, having fun and blowing off steam, whatever.   Girls who wake up in strange places the next day have problems, but I willingly went to guys houses or brought them home with me and I chose that because I was a liberated woman.  It all depends on how you twist it up and what pretty little bow you put on the package.  Denial is the disease’s best friend.  It lets us do what we think we want because we can’t even tell what we really want anymore.  I was miserable and didn’t even know it.

One night, my friend was staying at my place and I was out drinking.  I came back to try and convince her to come out and drink some more with me, but she declined.  I don’t remember coming home that night.  Most nights I drank, I stopped thinking about how I got home and how I drove the car each time.  I honestly wouldn’t be able to say with any certainty that I didn’t cause injury or death to another; other than no real big dents on the car, but who knows if I ran anyone off the road, whatever.  Anyway, I apparently came home and during the next hour or two, told my friend how miserable I was and lonely and unhappy, etc.  I guess my subconscious was the only part of me that wasn’t in denial!  I also threw up all over her and she had to clean us both up and put me to bed.  She suggested to me that I should maybe call AA and go to a meeting, that maybe I was an alcoholic.  This thought had never occurred to me before.  In fact, I have no recollection at all of any of this (including throwing up on her).  

Here’s the goosebump part…  I woke up the next day, hung over and tired and determined to go to my very first AA meeting.  If that isn’t divine intervention, I don’t know what is.  You see, she wasn’t there that morning to tell me about the night before and I had a complete and total blackout about it.  I didn’t even recall any of it when she told me days later!  I woke up and just knew for the first time that this wasn’t right and I needed to do something about it.  For the first time, I saw my drinking – really saw it for what it was.  It was one big, giant escape.  My escape from everything in my life that hurt or was hard.

I went to an open meeting and some old guy was blathering on about stuff I didn’t relate to one bit and I came to the conclusion that this was one big waste of my time.  I started talking to some woman who was clearly insane!   I was just about to leave and go back to my pitiful life (or lack of it) when I spotted a pretty good-looking guy and figured I would talk to him. Thank God He was an honorable man, as he did not take advantage of my vulnerable position.  Instead, he asked a small group to meet in another room and offered me a “first step” meeting.  As each person told their story, I kept thinking that I could really help some of these people.  I mean, they were really messed up!  I politely continued to listen and after a while, I got that there was a frightening similarity to the things I was hearing and my own life.  That got my attention.  So I asked these kind folks, “Am I an alcoholic?”  They answered with the most infuriating thing I had ever heard…  They told me that they couldn’t answer that, only I could.  AARGH!  I came here for answers and these stupid people weren’t going to give them to me!  

Here is what they told me to do.  They said I could keep coming back and if I did 90 meetings in 90 days, I would find my answers.  What did I have to lose?  That was what I did.  I’d love to say it was all perfect from there, but no.  I had a slip when I went out with my old crowd because these were my friends, damn it, and they would support my decision and help me not drink.  Well, my sobriety date is January 1, 1991 instead of November 23, 1990 because I needed to be convinced to change my playmates.  That’s okay.  Today, I am married to a man I met in the program.  We both have19 years and live a great life with our 3 kids.  Does everything go perfect?  Hell no!  We have some great tools to rely on when it doesn’t and we have wonderful friends to call on when we need them and we get called on we they need us.  It is very symmetrical and wonderfully peaceful some of the time and the rest of the time, we just have to worry about that day and it all works out.  Good luck on your program and remember that it is a much happier life you seek, please don’t give up looking for it.